Wednesday, December 30, 2015


In a recent article, (fairly short and very enlightening) a moderate Muslim (Abdullahi Ahmen An-Na’im) opines about some of the reasons many in Islam are unable to counter the efforts of ISIS or any other radical Islamic entity.  As I read the article, I was struck by a statement this gentleman made concerning the power that some Muslims take upon themselves in proclaiming jihad.

A related difficulty in this whole discussion is that according to Sharia, jihad can only be launched by a legitimate state authority.

ISIS claims to have Islamic legitimacy, but what is the basis of that secretive claim? Who nominated them, and why and how should the Caliph of ISIS have authority over the global Muslim community?

Since this authority is based on an entirely open and free process of individual choice, ISIS’ claim may succeed to the extent it is supported by a critical mass of Muslims.

Mohammed receiving revelation from angel Gabriel
Mohammed receiving his first revelation from

He seemed to be saying that those who follow the Prophet Mohammed are doing the best they can but without (for the lack of a better word) certified leadership in the religion, it is impossible to find consensus on doctrine in their faith. 
So, here we have a violent off-shoot of a worldwide religion that has taken upon themselves the authority to interpret the doctrines/principles of their faith – many times in direct contradiction to the writings of their founder – and other times against the majority of adherents.  The end result being that those who would like to see a more peaceful application of doctrines and principles are left to shake their heads and wring their hands because they CAN’T dispute the interpretation of the minority.

I imagine Paul was thinking about this predicament when he said:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

Paul also said this:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Without the foundations of Apostles and Prophets, the standards, principles, doctrines, and beliefs of a religion will not survive.  They will always be affected by the reasoning of man, without the inspiration of God. 

Many religions have leaders of great strength and capability.  I am always impressed by the Pope and his caring nature that guides his people, and many of the world.  He is a good man and may have some prophetic qualities. I will leave the judgment of his calling to God. Much the same can be said for other religious leaders but, again, their position with God is difficult for me to assess.

What I do know is that we have 15 living prophets on the earth today.  They are called of God and are men who are trying very hard to listen to the word of God. 

But they ARE men!!  And, for the most part, they are old (at least by worldly standards).

So how do we know they won’t do what ISIS has done (not literally, but you know what I mean)?

Because they are not just ONE person.  Nor are they just ONE part of the faith.  No one of them has any more sway in the decision process than the other.

These are 15 experienced men who have served faithfully for the majority of their lives and still serve God and Christ.  They have been presented to the body of the Church (no secret members or surprise ordinations) and have been accepted in their roles. 

And nothing happens until they all agree unanimously in their decisions.  If only one is undecided or against the proposition, it is tabled until agreement can be found.

No harboring animosities.
No political posturing.
No pouting or name-calling.

The process makes for decisions that come a little more slowly.  Nothing rash or hurried in deciding what to do or teach.

It also makes for sound, consistent doctrine and teachings that give a solid foundation for those who believe.  There is no question when it comes to the basic principles and beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wait, I know there are some who will dispute that last statement.  We do have questions about basic things pertaining to the gospel/Church.  But the final arbiter for what is correct is always found in what the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve teach as they speak.

As an individual member, I can interpret the doctrines as I desire, but if my interpretation contradicts that of the 15 men who lead, I need to reconsider what I believe.  And as I interpret by the power of the Holy Ghost, I have discovered that my understanding will be more correct and in line with the prophets.

There must be consistency in the doctrine of any faith to maintain peace with God.  Otherwise, the results will eventually be something like what is described in the article.  Man cannot account for all the challenges that will confront religion as the world continues to spiral. 

A portrait of the First Presidency, with President Monson in a chair, President Eyring standing behind him, and President Uchtdorf seated on a bench.
The First Presidency

A portrait of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, five of them sitting in a row of chairs and the remaining seven standing behind them.
The current Quorum of the Twelve

The comfort of Prophets helps soften many of the challenges of the day.  Without Prophets, ISIS and all other ungodly entities will continue to propagate.  There is peace where there are True Prophets of God and where the people listen to their counsel.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Christmas is almost here so it seems like the time to share a few of our fall activities.  Nothing outstanding but things we all like to do.

A short visit to the field level
Josh called me one day and asked if I was interested in going to a football game.  Of course, I was.  We had a nice trip and I was especially surprised at how well Emma and Matt handled the game.  Impressive young people and really fun to hang with on a Saturday. 
Cosmo visited Matt and Emma and we
even got free shirts.

Our family party for November was accompanied by a little service project in Josh’s ward.  He and Heather have some friends who were in need of help so we took our whole crew down the street and frolicked in the leaves.  It was delightful to watch all the grandkids as they worked and played but focused on helping others.  It’s times like this that make an old man (and the cute young thing he married) smile in satisfaction.

If you are wondering, Josh is the supervisor -- MBA gives him
that right.
Raking is hard for little bodies.
But Joel's wife, Paula Jean endured (maroon cap).

Joel is always at his highest fashion sense
when he out amongst the people.

Lookout over the Wedge.
Our autumn adventures also included the annual trek to Grandpa Grange’s house.  I think this was the biggest group we have had in a few years.  There was horseback riding, hiking in the hills, a visit to the San Rafael Swell with all its majesty, and some repair work on Grandpa’s corral and home.  Oh, and we had some pretty good food along the way.

Teresa showing off her riding skills -- after
many years she is still pretty good.

The San Rafael River at the bottom of the canyon

Josh and Joel roofing Grandpa's corral.  There was a group on the
house but I don't have a picture.

More canyon.

Just hanging out with a great family.
Don’t know how many more of these Thanksgiving trips we will have but we are cherishing each as they come to us.  Teresa’s mom left us in May and we know it won’t be too many years before Dad goes off to be with her (I think he prefers sooner to later).  Our children and their kids have grown up going down to Huntington every year and I believe they will always remember the good feelings that accompany these excursions.

And of course, there is a project for the kids.  They are decorating
trees to put on the graves of some really special people.

Teresa and I are still relatively young but it seems many we love are starting to leave us.  Some of our good friends have lost one or both of the couple and now our own families are starting to go home.  Some days it sends me into a melancholy fugue just considering all that has happened during my time in mortality.  Then I consider the changes in the world and my personal life and recognize that God has given me a great gift.  How else can a man become what God wants him to be if there are no challenging parts to existence.

Primarily my heart is lifted by the love so many share with me.  Beginning with Teresa, and down to the last student I will ever meet, I am so blessed to know and love and be loved.  My greatest joy is our Savior and His Father.  If Teresa and I can endure and keep our wits about us, I am confident we will, one day, experience the fulfillment of the promise that says we are worthy to live with those we love the most.  The older I get, the more that means to me and the harder it drives me to try.

I hope you are coming with us – It will be no fun if anyone is missing.

Merry Christmas!!

Most of us who were there for Thanksgiving

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Recently, I was reading from the Book of Mormon as part of my nightly devotional.  Some nights my efforts are from habit more than devotion but this night I was troubled by events of the day and was seeking solace of the word in the book of Jarom.  It might seem a little unusual to look there because that is not one of the places where we seem to find deep doctrinal or spiritual enlightenment.  But it was my place of refuge that night.

An original copy of the Book of Mormon

Jarom is the great-grandson of Lehi, the prophet who initiated the events recorded in The Book of Mormon.  He (Jarom) was given the plates of Nephi by his father, Enos, and commanded to continue the record of his people.  Lamenting the struggles he witnessed among those he loved and the challenges they were having with their enemies, Jarom shared a few thoughts about God’s mercies towards the Nephites.

As a lifelong member of the LDS Faith, I have read this little book numerous times but on this night I was touched by the faith and tenderness this good man expressed as he reported their circumstances.  Likewise, I was affected by the stark reality of how much his concerns mirrored the thoughts, events, and actions of our day.  Here’s an example:

v. 3 – Behold, it is expedient that much should be done among this people, because of the hardness of their hearts, and the deafness of their ears, and the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks; nevertheless, God is exceedingly merciful unto them, and has not as yet swept them off from the face of the land.

We, in the Americas, live in a promised land that is reserved for those who are followers of Christ.  As taught by many prophets in scripture and in real life, we have also been warned that if we lose our focus and turn away from the Master of this earth we will lose the protection that comes with faith in Christ.

As a purveyor of the Internet and its accompanying social media, I believe it is easy to recognize that there are many who suffer from “hardness of the heart”, “deafness of the ears” and “blindness of minds”.  And yet, God has continued to be merciful unto us and is letting us work out our own path through the landmines of mortality. 

(BTW, I am not excluding myself from the descriptions above – there are times when I have fallen and continue to fall into the trap that results from a hard heart, blind mind, and stiff neck).

I suppose that is one of the things that interested me in the history Jarom was reporting.  With a gap of more than 2 millennia, it is interesting to see that his people (and he himself) were not so different than the people of our day.  They tried to be good (most of them) but often drifted into contentious experiences.  The only thing that seemed to keep them united was a desire for protection from their enemies.

That’s all well and good, you say, but what does this have to do with me and you.  Well, I’m glad you asked because I’m about to spew forth my ramblings on the subject. 

Are you ready?


It might be obvious that Jarom is prejudiced in the way he looks at the events of his day.  He was raised in a home where revelation and prophecy were the norm and it seems his own view of life was skewed in that direction.  It was not an unusual thing for him to see and hear prophecies (his dad and grandpa were prophets) so he had some understanding of those things.  Here is how he saw his people and their response to the challenges they were confronting:

v. 4 And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked.  And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith.

I believe, like Jarom recorded, that there are many who have revelations to help them know what to do in life.
Not just prophets, but good people.
Of every religion.
Who have faith in God and are doing the best they can in life.
God will make Himself known to anyone who comes to Him for help.
He doesn’t care if they know EXACTLY who He is.
He only cares that they want to know the truth He has to offer.

But Jarom was acting as a Prophet to his people so he had a deeper need to know what God wanted the Nephites of his day to do for greater protection from their enemies.  What could Jarom teach those in his stewardship that would draw them closer to God and His protective embrace?

Ta Da!! Revelation! 

That’s how God does it. 

And it was simple.

 Not new, but simple.

v. 5 – And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land.  They observed to keep the law of Moses and the Sabbath day holy unto the Lord.  And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme.  And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict.

All it takes is keeping the commandments God has given with guarantees of blessings.  Basic, effective, and proven laws founded on eternal principles.  Given by those who were called of God to guide His people. 

But sometimes there has to be a little extra in the teachings.  Not doctrinally, but emphasizingly (I know, that’s not a word)!

v. 11-12 Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was.  And after this manner did they teach them.  And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.

Had to include this in memory of
my recent experiences. :-)

Despite the gap of 2400 years, the process today is exactly the same.  In order to find peace in our time we must follow the path given by God.  Jarom knew what he was talking about.  Mormon saw the truth of the message and included it in these sacred words from God.  The answers are there if we want them.

And prophets will also emphasize the areas where we are weak so that we might progress.  That’s why our Prophets have been doing so much to increase Sabbath Day observance.  They recognize the value it will bring to our trek in mortality.  The hearts of mortals must be ‘pricked’ often to keep them aware of their duties.  Otherwise we all drift and lose sight of the important things.

Let me be a little bold for just a moment.

There is no one on earth who deserves more attention than the prophets who speak for God. These 15 men, working together, are the only hope we have for finding the path back to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  Just as Moses spoke to Israel for their benefit during the 40 year sojourn from Egypt, so we have prophets who speak during our travails through life.

They are the guides through our treacherous path of mortality.

They will help us find the way.

They are NOT infallible.  But they are united in the desire to better our lives.

And their united voice is the voice of Jesus Christ to the world.

No government program is going to change the way people pass through this existence.  We cannot legislate our way into the presence of God.

Politicians are not the answer to finding peace.  They have too many distractions and agendas.

Only One has the power to calm the storms that rage over this earth.

Thomas doubted -- but found his
way despite that moment.

Each of us is expected to find our way.  The map is available from a loving Father and His Son.  They knew we needed help and prepared enough to guide us home.  The trick is to find the manual, listen to the guides, and then follow the directions home.

Jarom got it.  I’m starting to get it.  Many of you are already well on your way. 

Happy Trails and give me a kick if you see me slacking on the road.

Friday, December 4, 2015


A few weeks ago, I was out in the carport working on some of our “never ending” remodel.  This night was about finishing the crown molding in the kitchen (the final step for that room).

In the midst of all my sawing and nailing and mistaking (yes, it takes me a few misses to get it right) I was approached by a somewhat familiar young lady.  She seemed nice but I couldn’t figure out why I recognized her.  Then she identified herself as a reporter from KSL Television.  I must admit that I was a bit surprised someone from the media would approach me – especially since I am a very nondescript individual.

After introducing herself, the reporter asked if I was aware of the home across the street that had been remodeled by the city.  Of course, I knew about the project (being the nosey neighbor that I am) and expressed some appreciation for the semi-wise use of our tax dollars to improve the city.  She asked if I would mind answering a few questions and I happily agreed. 

But THEN she asked if would be alright if her cameraman recorded our conversation.  Well, you can see from the following report how that all went.

Just click on the window with the arrow to see the whole thing.

I did not wake up that morning with a desire to become a star on the news, but it seems fate had other ideas for me.  Now I am wondering if I should reconsider my career options – maybe get into acting or broadcasting.  It’s obvious to me that I’m a natural and the world is being deprived of my skill as an orator and personality.  I think my first order of business is to find an agent and see what he/she can do to move me along in my newly discovered abilities. 

All of the previous paragraph was pure ‘snark’ and should not be believed as reality.

It was fun to see myself on TV (though a little frightening – I look a lot older than I think I am).  I suspect this will be the last time for such an experience.  Much like this blog, there are only a few faithful who have seen my glory, but it is the only glory I have for them to see!!

Until next time – and maybe not even then.